The thrilling first reveal of Robert Pattinson’s costume for The Batman includes a bat symbol that’s made out of parts of a gun. Fans have been quick to theorize that this gun could be none other than the gun that killed Batman’s parents, Martha and Thomas Wayne – which would be a detail lifted straight from the comics.
Leaving behind the Ben Affleck version of Batman – who appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Justice League – this reboot from director Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) looks set to offer a more grounded version of the character. This is already apparent in the costume’s camera test video, where the batsuit has visible stitching and appears to be made out of leather. However, there is one element of the costume that’s stronger than the rest: the bat symbol, which is constructed out of gun parts.
In a story featured in Detective Comics #1000, titled “Manufactured For Use,” Batman retrieves the gun used by the Gotham City mugger Joe Chill, who murdered the Waynes outside the theater. Alfred expresses distaste for the object, telling Bruce that adding the gun to his trophy case is “too grim even for you.” Bruce replies that he has other plans for it, since his fights with Gotham’s bad guys so often lead to them trying to stab him in the chest. He melts down the gun and reforges it as a metal plate that goes underneath the bat symbol on his chest, so that it can serve as protection rather than causing harm.
This isn’t the only time that DC Comics have featured Joe Chill’s gun. The weapon had a different fate in the story arc of Batman: Year Two, where Batman faces off against the Reaper. Overwhelmed by the Reaper’s weapons, Batman loses faith in non-lethal options and arms himself with the gun that killed his parents. He is then forced to work with Chill to defeat the Reaper, and plans to kill him with his old gun as revenge for the Waynes’ deaths. Chill is ultimately killed by the Reaper instead, and Batman seals the gun away in the walls of the Wayne Foundation building. Given that The Batman is said to take place in Bruce’s second year as the vigilante, it may end up borrowing elements from Batman: Year Two.
Though Batman was known to use guns in some of the early issues of Detective Comics, a hatred of guns later became a key part of his characterization. Since it was a gun that took his parents away from him, Batman prefers to use gadgets, batarangs, and brute strength to defeat his enemies. One of the most common criticisms aimed at Ben Affleck’s iteration of the character was his use of guns and his willingness to use lethal force.
If Pattinson’s Batman really is taking notes from the Detective Comics #1000 story when it comes to his costume, then the movie could also see him wholly reject guns as a weapon in a way that Affleck’s Batman didn’t. It would certainly be a good first step towards getting fans who were disappointed by Batman v Superman and Justice League back on board. Moreover, having such a grim memento embedded at the heart Batman’s costume would certainly fit the gritty noir approach that Reeves is said to be taking.